The Covid pandemic was a reminder that localised networks give our food system resilience during disruption, but also that they pay farmers fairly to produce food in a nature friendly way, and helps them stay in business. [The Food Programme]
Today’s Daily Mail carries a piece celebrating the news that the first British baked beans could soon be on the breakfast menu! – as scientists have successfully grown haricot beans in the UK for the first time.
And the weekend’s Food Programme on Radio 4 looked at local food, asking “Is it working?”:
Local food networks thrived during lockdown with more people turning to local producers, farm shops and veg box schemes as supermarket shelves ran dry. But how are they doing now? The Covid pandemic was a reminder that localised networks give our food system resilience during disruption, but also that they pay farmers fairly to produce food in a nature friendly way, and helps them stay in business. The cost of living crisis has been one of the biggest difficulties for this system recently, as consumers pay a higher price at the till.
Sheila Dillon visits Growing Communities, a local food network in Hackney, East London who run a veg box scheme, to hear what’s needed to help networks like theirs to expand. She also talks to Rana Foroohar, global business columnist and associate editor at The Financial Times, about what the Biden administration is doing to decentralise the food system in the US. Nigel Murray, Managing Director of Booths Supermarket, explains how they support smaller producers and local supply chains in the North West of England and Yorkshire. And we hear from the Food Producer finalists in the 2023 BBC Food and Farming Awards, about how they are carving out their own diverse network of customers outside the supermarket system.
Certainly local food is healthier, especially with the debate around ‘ultra-processed foods’; it seems that local food deliveries are “more eco- friendly”; and ‘local food’ is very much about supporting the local community and providing local resilience to global risk.
What about local food in the Sid Valley? Here’s a current list of projects and endeavours:
- there is the newly-established and award-winning Sidmouth Community Food Forest;
- it has been an ‘exceptional year’ for this year’s Sid Valley Gardening Show;
- the In My Back Yard food network took off during Covid and is now very well established in Sidmouth and East Devon;
- there are some great local farms in the Sid Valley, including Stantyway Farm, Plyford Farm and the Free Range Farmer in Sidbury;
- and of course there are local food retailers – Ian Winchester & Sons, Sidmouth Trawlers – and the likes of East Hill Pride Farm Shop